Fifteen dead dogs have been discovered on the site of a rave festival in France - some of them with their bellies cut open to recover "hidden" drugs.
Police and animal welfare officials believe the dogs were fed packages containing drugs to avoid security checks at the perimeter of the Teknival site at Chavanne, near Bourges on the river Loire.
It is a dodge sometimes employed by drug-dealers but usually they wait until the animal excretes the package or they force the dog to become sick.
"On this occasion, they must have been in a hurry," a local veterinary officer told the newspaper Le Parisien. "It is obvious that they just cut open the bellies of the dogs to get the drugs back."
Altogether, 15 dogs were found among the heaps of litter or in dustbins at the site of the Teknival last weekend. Several of the dogs appeared to have died from stress or fright. Most of the animals had their bellies cut open.
A woman of 22 died from an overdose of drugs taken at the festival - an annual event that attracts ravers from all over Europe. A young man also died soon after attending the Teknival but it remains unclear whether his death was drug-related.
Cases of dogs being made to swallow packages of drugs have also been reported in South America, Belgium and the Netherlands. This is the first case of its kind in France. The Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) for the département of Cher said that it hoped to trace the owners of the dead dogs and investigate the deaths.
"Some of them were tattooed with official identification numbers. We are going to track down the owners and bring prosecutions against them one by one," an SPA official said.
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited